Kerr's 49m goal rocks Auckland

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Saturday, August 19, 2017    Lynn McConnell    Getty Images

It started when Counties Manukau first five-eighths Baden Kerr had just landed a 49m penalty goal in the 75th minute. At the re-start he kicked the ball straight to touch thinking the game was all over. The ground clock had shown 42 minutes gone.
But the television clock and the referee's watch showed three minutes remaining. Auckland mounted a last ditch effort to win the game, keeping the ball in close through 16 phases before No.8 Akira Ioane had a dive at the line only to be ruled to be held up.

The TMO was asked for evidence a try had been scored but couldn't produce any and upon receiving the decision the match referee Cam Stone then asked if time was up. It was and Counties Manukau had claimed the win.

It was a scrappy encounter with little flowing play. Both sides made life difficult for themselves with poor tactical kicking, several times ball going out on the full. Conditions were tricky after earlier rain, and with more rain in the last 20 minutes.

It was a night for the grunt men up front with hooker Greg Pleasants-Tate setting the example for locks Patrick Tuipulotu and Scott Scrafton to follow while No.8 Akira Ioane chipped in with some key defensive work especially.

Counties Manukau had their own hard workers with hefty tighthead prop Kalolo Tuiloma featuring in some strong runs while the loose forwards tryscorer Foto Lokotui, Ronald Raaymakers and Sam Henwood were competitive and put in plenty of tackles.

Early penalties conceded by Auckland played into Counties Manukau's hands and at a second attempt they got their lineout maul rolling after a kick to the corner and Lokotui went over in the maul in the 13th minute.

But the home team overdid their enthusiasm and Henwood was ruled to have made a dangerous tackle on Auckland fullback Jordan Trainor and was sin-binned.

During that time Auckland were able to spend more time in the Counties Manukau 22m area and while building one attack first five-eighths Dan Bowden attempted a long pass which was intercepted by wing Nigel Ah Wong but the ball rebounded when he was tackled and Bowden picked it up.

Auckland mounted a series of drives at the line and eventually it was halfback Jono Hickey who made use of his legal knowledge to place the ball at the base of the goal-post where Counties Manukau couldn't place a defender.

Kerr landed a penalty goal to give the home team a 10-7 lead at the break.

Ioane probed from the back of the scrum without success until five minutes into the second half when from out in front of the Counties Manukau posts, he found space to drive into the goalmouth.

Winning the ruck, Auckland gave Bowden the chance to slip a kick to the in-goal area and centre Malakai Fekitoa won the race for the touchdown with Hickey landing a fine conversion from the sideline.

Scorers: Counties Manukau 16 (Foto Lokotui tries; Baden Kerr con, 3 pen) Auckland 14 (Jono Hickey, Malakai Fekitoa tries; Hickey 2 con). HT: 10-7